JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said an auto theft ring is now broken following the arrests of six suspects and the recovery of at a least a dozen stolen vehicles.
Eric Crews, Pam Ryan, Jacob Teague, Joshua Wenger, and Lacey Jones are charged with two counts of felony taking of a motor vehicle. Darrel Lovett Williams is charged with failure to stop when an officer signals and receiving stolen property.
It was a run-in between suspects and sheriff's deputies on Christmas night that led to the big break in this auto theft ring case.
Insurance Auto Auctions on Old Stage Rd. in East Jackson County is the business those accused thieves targeted.
"We got a call out there to that salvage yard where there was a lot of vehicles out there. A lot of those vehicles were newer vehicles that had flooded over in Denham Springs during the flood, and there was a group of folks that decided they wanted to go over there and start taking them," said Ezell.
When deputies were called to the business Christmas night, they surprised the suspects, who then somehow managed to escape in a stolen SUV.
Their Christmas luck didn't last long. The very next morning, a deputy caught up with the stolen vehicle and made the initial arrest.
"They ran from deputies that night, so we had descriptions and BOLOs and guys on their toes and ended up with a good case.
A Nissan Altima and Chevy Camaro are among the stolen vehicles recovered from a list that also includes a Mercedes, a GMC Yukon, and a Dodge Charger.
Were these vehicles destined to be chopped up for parts?
"That's what we're thinking right now. It's a possibility. You know, it's kind of unfolding kind of fast here, so it will take a little more legwork, and we should have a little more information on it," said Ezell.
The sheriff is pleased with the work of his investigators and deputies, especially following the tense confrontation at the salvage yard Christmas night.
"It was pretty hairy there for a few minutes. They flew out past them in a high rate of speed and got away from us that night, but our officers just kept working the case, which now has turned out to be a good lick with people in jail and property recovered," said Ezell.